As the end of the regular season draws near the Indiana Pacers are exactly in the same situation they were in before the All-Star break. After an 116-91 loss to the Toronto Raptors, the team sits at a record of 35-34. Right now the Pacers are in sixth place in the Eastern Conference and are in danger of falling out of the playoff picture. But that has been the case all year long as the team is mediocre at best and the front office has done nothing to improve the team during the season.

The team continues to alternate between wins and losses, in their last 12 games the Pacers are 6-6 and whatever progress they seem to make one game is lost the next. The Pacers will have to deal with the fact that Paul George‘s contract is almost up and if the team doesn’t get any better the possibility of him leaving increases. Indiana could have prevented this issue, they could have made a trade for a playmaker or even a solid bench player at the trade deadline. But the team was content to stay as it was and in the end did nothing to improve.

Being a mediocre team is the norm now for the Pacers who are only a few years removed from back to back Eastern Conference championship appearances. It looked like a coaching change was necessary to bring life back into the team. New coach Nate McMillan has done an ok job but that’s the issue the team is just ok. Nothing has really changed for Indiana. The issues that have made life difficult for the Pacers over the last few years are still around today. The lack of energy, the lack of emotion, crumbling in high-pressure situations, and looking like players are just giving up during a blowout loss are all problems the Pacers still have.

I don’t think it’s McMillan’s fault there is only so much a coach can do with players who look miserable when they are out on the court. Firing him would only hurt the team as the players would have to get adjusted to another new coach only one year after getting used to McMillan. This team doesn’t have a leader, they need someone who can get everyone fired up. While George is a great player he doesn’t come off as a leader and he needs talented players around him. He is not one of the players who can make everyone else better and the players they have surrounded George with are just not good enough to make the team a championship contender.

At this point, it would be better if the Pacers miss the playoffs and received a lottery pick. It would also save them the embarrassment of getting blown out in the playoffs by the Washington Wizards, the Boston Celtics, or the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round. Even if they do make the playoffs this Pacers team is not a team that would scare anyone as they can’t put two or more consecutive good games together.

It is time to end the Paul George era in Indiana, the Pacers should trade both him and Jeff Teague to any team that is willing to give them either younger players or draft picks to start rebuilding off of. Having a roster full of younger players who have something to prove and are willing to play hard game in and game out is exactly what the team needs.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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